While Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has been touted as the first-ever animated feature, Lotte Reiniger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed got the jump on it by a full 12 years. Now, 76 years later, the film has been released as a collector’s edition DVD.
Hailed as a masterpiece, the silhouette animated feature premiered in Germany on September 23, 1926. Taken from The Arabian Nights, the story tells of a wicked sorcerer who lures Prince Achmed onto a magical flying horse and sends him off on a flight to his death. The prince foils the magician’s plan, however, and flies headlong into a series of wondrous adventures. He joins forces with Aladdin and the Witch of the Fiery Mountains to do battle with the sorcerer’s army of monsters and demons, and eventually falls in love with the beautiful Princess Peri Banu.
The film has been restored from original 35mm archival material and features a new recording of the original orchestral score by Wolfgang Zeller. Bonus materials include a new 60-minute documentary titled Lotte Reiniger: Homage to the Inventor of the Silhouette Film, a 5-minute commercial Reiniger created in 1921 for Nivea Cream, a gallery of stills from the film and Reinger at work, plus an optional audio track with spoken intertitles for children.
The Adventures of Prince Achmed is available on both VHS and DVD from Milestone Films (www.milestonefilms.com) for $29.95.